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breaking promises and keeping them

14 Jul

Sometimes a promise shouldn’t be kept, and sometimes it must be kept. The same is true when making promises in your writing to your readers. An example from my work which spawned this lesson is what I will be using this time. I had written in the beginning of a story a suspenseful situation which I abandoned by chapter 2. I did this on purpose, the original situation was intended to set the scene which the entire series would flesh out.

The problem came when my beta reader took a gander. She was so upset that I didn’t finish telling the story, that I realized I had failed not only in my transition, which she also didn’t grasp, but also in a promise I unknowingly made to my future readers. Sometimes a promise knowingly made to be broken works well as a sudden plot twist. But there is also the trap to watch for, of making a promise and then forgetting about it.

What I mean with a promise can be many things. A mystery writer has the inherent promise that the bad guy will eventually get caught. The romance author has the inherent promise that the two lovers will find each other and be happy. A science fiction writer has the inherent promise to have science. There are many promises which I will not get into, but which a writer needs to understand when they write for a particular genre especially, but also for their individual story. In my particular case, I discovered a great addition for my future stories in that particular series and learned a valuable lesson.

In closing, be sure that beta readers you use include those who regularly read the genre you are writing in, and make sure the promises you make are kept or broken appropriately.

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